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You’ve Been Away for So Long. . .Swervedriver Live in New York

Posted by on Jun 14, 2008 in Music | 2 comments


Fuck, yes!

If I were returning from the the Land of Dead and Gone Things and I could take one thing back with me to the Realm of the Living, it would be Swervedriver.

Luckily, the band resurrected itself after a decade layoff and played at Manhattan’s Bowery Ballroom Wednesday June 11 and Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg (both sold out) on Thursday June 12. In all honesty, Swervedriver has never really formed a critical mass in terms of fandom, but their fans — dudes now in their 30s — are seriously hardcore. If they had played New York five nights in a row, I’m sure it would have sold out and that I would be one among a thousand who would buy tickets for each night. It’s difficult to describe Swervedriver’s music (they titled an EP “Space Travel Rock n Roll,” and that’s a good filler answer). I would say that the music itself seems so infused with emotion, it hits the listener on a personal, subliminal level. Witness the audience, so lost in their own worlds, standing still, playing air guitar/bass/drums. If someone stepped away to go to the bathroom, he could return to his spot, as no one would advance to take it.

The Bowery Show


The first opening band, Terra Diablo of Scotland, were all right. Nothing really stuck to me and not too many people were there at this point. Extra points for knocking their equipment around at the end of the set!


Dirty on Purpose, the second opener, wasn’t really my kind of music. The drummer took most of the lead vocals and I couldn’t get into his treble-y voice. The guitarist on the left spoke up at one point. “Hey, I just heard somebody yell ‘Swervedriver.’ They’re playing next. There’s a nice bar downstairs if you want to wait for them.” “Be nice!” someone in the audience admonished him. Dirty on Purpose was in a tough spot. I mean, Jesus, I wouldn’t want to be the band opening right before a cult favorite playing a reunion tour.


Give Swervedriver credit for not wasting any time hitting the stage. After a tuning check, (left to right) Steve George, Jez Hindmarsh, Adam Franklin and Jimmy Hartridge came out to the instrumental, untitled track at the end of Ejector Seat Reservation‘s last listed track “The Birds.” The band roared out with “Sandblasted” from first album Raise and and then peeled a sharp version of “The Birds.” The last time I had seen this band was Halloween night in 1998 at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, and damned if they weren’t tighter and hungrier now.

The Brooklyn Show

Up first was The Still Out. Not my kind of thing, and there was a strange moment when during an acoustic number, the keyboard player soloed way out of key, drawing concerned looks from his bandmates.


Up next were Longwave, whose members were impossibly skinny. Right before they went on, I heard one of the bouncers grumble, “These guys are so fucking loud.” I knew they had to be good! Longwave were probably the best opening act out of all four and certainly the most appropriate. Just the right balance of dissonance and dreaminess, IMHO.


What else can I say, except they were even better in Brooklyn, played my jams “The Hitcher” and “I Am Superman” (they didn’t the first night), and just killed with “Rave Down” in the encore.

Let’s do some new songs and a new album. Please. I’m begging here.


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  1. 5redpandas

    You should go to more concerts because you write good reviews!

  2. Paul Mealey

    Thanks so much for posting these photos and doing the reviews. I was not able to go to this show due to illness, and I’ll never stop regretting that I didn’t suck it up and make the trip in. The Swervies are one of my favorite bands of all time.

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